I've finally finished my small but perfectly chicken-proofed vegetable garden. Actually I think the term "garden" is a bit grand for two small squares of denuded soil where the chickens houses once sat. I think I go with "patch" instead.
There are a few tomatoes in the greenhouse, and some potatoes and peas in pots as well. It's the first proper gardening I've done in two years, since I was made redundant post-accident. I always had surplus vegetables from the estate's kitchen garden and had no reason (or time) to grow my own outside of my job. I've found this little patch immensely more satisfying. I had lost my enthusiasm for gardening, but now that I can experiment with techniques and vegetable varieties of my choosing, it's no longer a job but just another happy part of our life. The "two veg" to go with our meat.
Speaking of which, I collected my share of the meat chicks today from underkeeper Pete. They are off heat but still need shelter and food. LOTS of food. You've never seen anything eat the quantities these 'bred for meat' chickens do.
We're trying a range of birds for the table, to see which we prefer. The winner will be the bird we produce for ourselves and possibly a small local market. This bird comes from a friend who supplies KFC, so it's the same breed that fast food outlets use in their products. The difference will be in their diet, and access to pasture and greens. I hope this is enough difference to put a tasty bird on the table.
They've only been here a few hours and already I can't envision a farmyard of these dullards. They loll about hanging a head in the food trough to eat, clump together in random corners and don't want to walk the two feet from house to the grass area. I still think a slower-growing dual purpose heritage breed will be the way forward.
I also re-homed my first brood of mixed bantams - I swapped them for two great sides of smoked trout. The chickens have a fancy new A-frame and doting owner to care for them. There are only 4 more chicks to sell this year. It hasn't been fruitful on the chicken breeding front. Barbara the Silkie hen is broody again - like Old Faithful she is - so I think there will be a late hatch of something pretty.
Some of the lavender Pekin chicks are frizzles!
This is what he/she will look like when grown (only lavender instead of white) -
Courtesy of pekincorner.co.uk
It might be an acquired taste, but I think they look comical tottering around the garden. My chickens are for eggs and my amusement. I admire the little pekins, and they're great mothers. I wonder if they can trap more heat in their permed plumage to keep chicks warm?
We have officially finished pheasant egg collecting today and plan to celebrate with a bottle of cider and leftovers for dinner. I wondered what I was going to do with the extra free time but I expect tending the garden and the meat chickens will fill it quickly. As it's tick season again I can use the time to go over the dogs and pick ticks off them. (Are you envying me my glamorous lifestyle yet?) We're up to 9 dogs this week as we have a visitor to stay -
Old Bracken. She belongs to one of the local landowners who shoots here. She was a spectacular working dog and even in her dotage comes out to pick up a bird or two. Mike trained Bracken for her owner, so she still shares a special bond with him. And with my dirty green sock apparently. She's been snoring away on the old sheepskin since she arrived, and the house dogs are respectful and don't disturb her. She's deaf as a stump, which is common in old gun dogs (and some of the owners) from all the gunshot I suppose. She'll get some old lady pampering - bath, nails done, tick check - before she goes home. Then Pip can have her sheepskin back. Pip's making do with my bed, so don't go feeling too sorry for her.